Review – The Toy Thief by D. W. Gillespie

The Toy Thief
The Toy Thief by D. W. Gillespie.
The Toy Thief

Book Title: The Toy Thief

Book Description: Jack didn’t know what to call the nameless, skeletal creature that slunk into her house in the dead of night, stealing the very things she loved the most. So she named him The Toy Thief… There’s something in Jack’s past that she doesn’t want to face, an evil presence that forever changed the trajectory of her family. It all began when The Toy Thief appeared, a being drawn by goodness and innocence, eager to feed on everything Jack holds dear. What began as a mystery spirals out of control when her brother, Andy, is taken away in the night, and Jack must venture into the dark place where the toys go to get him back. But even if she finds him, will he ever be the same?

Book Author: D.W. Gillespie

Book Format: EBook

Date published: October 6th 2018

ISBN: 1787580466

Number Of Pages: 240

  • Writing - 7.75/10
  • Development - 7.5/10
  • Overall - 7.5/10
User Review
0/10 (0 votes)


The Toy Thief is an Intriguing Light Horror Novel


The Toy Thief is a new horror novel written by D. W. Gillespie. Gillespie has been working very hard at becoming well known for his horror fiction and has come out with many novels in the genre. The Toy Thief is about a young girl named Jack, and the very complicated and sometimes terrifying childhood adventures she used to have.


There is never any question during the course of the novel that Gillespie intended it to be anything other than a horror story. While it is one of the lighter ones I’ve read (I can assure you that I won’t be having any nightmares tonight), it still fits into that category. The tone is creepy and foreshadowing. Some points more than other. There are moments that were purely anxiety-inducing, where I didn’t know what was going to happen next.

You can really see the works that influenced Gillespie here, or at least I could see some similar tones and themes. For me, The Toy Thief read as a blend between Stephen King’s It, Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, and Netflix’s Stranger Things. Some of these comparisons are obvious, such as the children resisting an unknown and potentially immortal enemy. Others are more subtle and take a bit of a closer look. 

The concept of The Toy Thief is truly a unique one and is the reason why I picked it for my seasonal read. I loved the creepy idea of somebody stealing children’s toys, as odd as that sounds. There’s something nefarious about the idea of a creature caring so much about children’s toys, even discarded ones. That feeling never leaves during the course of the book, and Gillespie made a brilliant move to take advantage of it.

The novel itself was written almost like a stream of consciousness. In this case, that means that the main character, Jack is retelling the story of what happened. But because she’s telling us everything she thinks of, sometimes she’ll get distracted. Sometimes she’ll be telling us about something that happened more recently or something that’s even happening right now. The end result is that no single story is left uninterrupted. Jack bounces from one point to the other and then back again. This worked well at the beginning, where the suspense was still heavy – mostly due to the fact that the antagonist had yet to be truly revealed. It did get tiring towards the end when all I wanted to do was see what was going to happen next.


I had some trouble with the main perspective of this novel. Jack was the main character, and really our only source of information for this novel. I should have cared quite a lot about her and what happened to her, but the truth of the matter is that I didn’t. I thought she was insensitive and off-putting at more than one occasion, often treating those around her poorly. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but in this case, it kept me from being concerned about her safety. I felt this even more strongly knowing that she lived to tell the tale, so to speak.

While I didn’t find myself overly sympathetic towards Jack, I did feel bad for her and her situation. She didn’t have the best family life, despite her father’s efforts. His efforts were admittedly inconsistent at best. The relationship she had with her brother wasn’t the best, but it is sort of what one would expect between siblings that have gone through a lot together.

There were times where I feel like the author wanted us to be afraid of Jack’s brother, but I never really felt that way. That’s because Jack never was afraid of him, no matter how bad things got. I know that was likely the little sister in her shining through, with a healthy dose of an afterthought, but it does affect the emotions of the novel.


Overall The Toy Thief was an interesting and unique read. Even though there were elements of the novel I would have preferred to see done differently, I can’t ignore how brilliant the concept itself was. Turning something so innocent as toys as the main focus in a horror novel…it’s enthralling.

The novel is in the horror genre, but it really was more disturbing and creepy than terrifying. In that sense, it ran more similar to Stranger Things and Coraline than It. Casual horror fans would likely enjoy it. Admittedly those who enjoy fits of pure terror will probably find something more satisfying elsewhere.

I really enjoyed Gillespie’s unique view of the world here. He has a particular skill in making the benign disturbing. I personally would love to see if the rest of his novels showcase that talent as well.


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About the author

Cat Wyatt

Cat Wyatt is an avid comic book reader, as well as a reader of novels. Her favorite genres are science fiction and fantasy, though she's usually willing to try other genres as well. Cat collects Funko Pop figures, Harry Potter books (different editions), and has more bookshelves than she's willing to admit.

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